Do you dread your child’s eye exams because you know you will be told that their condition has got worse? Read on!
Does your child suffer from near-sightedness? Near-sightedness (also known as myopia) is one of the most common vision problems in childhood. In fact, about 9% of kids aged 5-17 years are near-sighted, according to the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health in the USA. Kids with this condition can usually see things close up, but struggle to see things far away. It’s often diagnosed when they start school when they struggle to see the board in class.
Can you stop your child’s near-sightedness from getting worse?
According to Adrian Yssel, an optometrist and director at Dynamic Vision Optometrists who has specialised in treating near-sightedness for 10 years, you can control the deterioration of your child’s vision with new advanced technologies. You don’t have to accept that nothing can be done for your child.
The importance of early intervention
Adrian says it’s important to know that the earlier one intervenes with near-sightedness in kids, the better their chances are of avoiding the risks of more serious eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment when they get older. With near-sightedness, it’s impossible to repair the damage that has already been done. There is no going back. Taking control early on to slow the progression offers the very best prognosis.
An increased rate of near-sighted
Experts are seeing a big increase in the number of kids with this eye condition and are concerned about a “myopia pandemic”, fuelled by the vast amount of time kids are spending on near-vision tasks and being exacerbated by the COVID-19 lockdown. Less time outdoors in natural light and more time indoors staring at computer screens and devices are impacting young, developing eyes.
Evidence also suggests that young children who sleep in very dark rooms are less likely to develop myopia than children that sleep with night lights or in bright rooms. Not only are we seeing more children with myopia, but the ages at which they are being diagnosed are lower than in the past. This can be largely attributed to the very young age at which they start playing on smartphones and devices. This prolonged use of devices from a young age exposes their developing eyes to the long-term, negative effects of the blue and purple light spectrum of light that is emitted from device screens. Older generations were never exposed to these high-energy levels of light while growing up.
Three ways to stop your kid’s eyes from getting worse
There are 3 tried-and-tested ways to slow down the progression of near-sightedness in children:
- The first method, called Ortho Keratology, is backed by research and has the longest history of successfully reducing myopia progression in children with between 36-56%. It involves gently reshaping the front of the eye with a special contact lens that is worn while sleeping. Not all optometrists offer the treatment but you can be referred to other optometrists who have completed advanced courses in Ortho Keratology.
- The advanced, progressive soft contact lens which is prescribed for older patients who require reading prescriptions to see clearly at near distances can also be used to slow myopia progression in young children (off label).
- The third method involves using a well-known eye drop in a very diluted concentration just before going to sleep at night. By using specialised contact lenses in conjunction with eye drops, it can help to reduce nearsightedness significantly.